Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Christmas Tree of Life and Knowledge - Good and Evil



The Holy Thorn tree on Wearyall Hill in... Glastonbury, Somerset, is regarded as one of Britain’s most important symbols of Christianity, stretching back for centuries.

According to legend, Saint Joseph of Arimathea travelled to England, landing at the Isle of Avalon, after Christ was crucified, bringing with him the Holy Grail of Arthurian folklore.

He is said to have stuck his wooden staff – which had belonged to Jesus – into the ground on Wearyall Hill before he went to sleep. When he awoke it had sprouted into a thorn tree, which became a natural shrine for Christians across Europe, the Glastonbury Holy Thorn. The tree is renowned for flowering twice a year at Christmas and at Easter.

Because of its associations with Joseph, (he was the Virgin Mary’s uncle), the Holy Thorn is of important spiritual significance for Christians and has come to be regarded as sacred by many others.

The original Holy Thorn was a centre of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages but was chopped down during the English Civil War. A replacement thorn was planted in 1951 on Wearyall Hill, but it had to be replanted the following year. Other examples of the thorn grow in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey and St Johns Church.

Each year a sprig from another one of the Holy Thorn trees in the town is cut for the Queen, a tradition which dates back more than 100 years. The Queen places the sprig on her dining room table on Christmas Day.

On the morning of 9th December 2010, Glastonbury locals found the sacred tree hacked down to a stump by ‘persons unknown’. A sacrilegious act of violence that has left many Christians shocked and distraught.

The owner of Wearyall Hill is Edward James, 70, who was arrested this week in connection with the collapse of Crown Currency Exchange, of which he is a major shareholder. The company, which has 8,000 creditors, collapsed in October, owing £16 million.

One possibility is that the attack may have been part of a vendetta against Mr. James, who is on police bail. There is no proof; this is just one of the many theories. Another is that anti-Christian groups could be behind the vandalism, an act of defiance during the Christmas season.

Whatever the reason, we can be sure of one thing, whenever a sacred place of pilgrimage is desecrated in this way, terrible tragedy soon follows. I will cite the Buddas of Bamyan in Afghanistan as a prime example of this.

In the encyclopedia of mythology we can read about how trees of all kinds held great spiritual significance. In legends from around the world, trees appear as ladders between worlds, as sources of life and wisdom, and as the physical forms of supernatural beings…

With its roots buried deep in the earth, its trunk above ground and its branches stretching toward the sky, a tree serves as a symbolic, living link between this world and those of supernatural beings. In many myths, a tree is a vital part of the structure of the universe. Gods and their messengers travel from world to world by climbing up or down the tree.

Providers of shade and bearers of fruit, trees have long been associated with life and fertility. Evergreen trees, which remain green all year, became symbols of undying life. Deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the winter and produce new ones in the spring, symbolized renewal, rebirth after death, or immortality.

Many creation myths draw on trees as symbols of life. In some versions of the Persian creation story a huge tree grew from the rotting corpse of the first human. The trunk separated into a man and a woman, Mashya and Mashyane, and the fruit of the tree became the various races of humankind. Norse mythology says that the first man and woman were an ash and an elm tree given life by the gods.

The tree of life, with sacred animals feeding on fruit-bearing branches, is a common image in the art of the ancient Near East. The tree was associated with palaces and kingship because the king was seen as the link between the earthly and divine realms. Through him, the gods blessed the earth with fertility.

Traditional Persian and Slavic myths both told of a tree of life that bore the seeds of all the world's plants. This tree, which looked like an ordinary tree, was guarded by an invisible dragon that the Persians called Simarghu and the Slavs called Simorg.

For fear of cutting down the tree of life by accident, Slavic peoples performed sacred ceremonies before taking down a tree. The Persians cut no trees but waited for them to fall naturally. In the mythology of the Yoruba people of West Africa, a palm tree planted by the god Obatala was the first piece of vegetation on earth.

Trees and the fruit they bore came to be associated with wisdom, knowledge, or hidden secrets. This meaning may have come from the symbolic connection between trees and worlds above and below human experience. The tree is a symbol of wisdom in stories about the life of Buddha, who was said to have gained spiritual enlightenment while sitting under a bodhi tree.

A traditional Micronesian myth from the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific Ocean is similar to the biblical account of the fall from Eden. In the beginning of the world was a garden where two trees grew, guarded by an original being called Na Kaa.

Men lived under one tree and gathered its fruit, while women lived apart from the men under the other tree. One day when Na Kaa was away on a trip, the men and women mingled together under one of the trees. Upon his return, Na Kaa told them that they had chosen the Tree of Death, not the Tree of Life, and from that time all people would be mortal.

In 723, a Christian missionary named Winfrid (Bishop Boniface) cut down an oak tree sacred to the god Thor. This action is said to mark the beginning of the Christianization of the Germanic peoples. He stripped to the waist, took an axe, and chopped the tree down. As the god Thor did not strike Winfrid dead with a lightning bolt, the German soldiers fell to their knees in reverence and were baptized into the Christian faith.

When I was much younger I visited Glastonbury many times as it was close to my home town. The air is thick with mystery and magic. The area holds a special place in my heart, so I guess this is the reason for today's post. The cutting down of the Holy Thorn tree is clearly a very un-holy thing to do. I hope it does not herald some kind of un-enlightened new age.

Merry Christmas to all!


Sources: Encyclopedia of Mythology, various UK online news sites

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From ENRON to Armenia - The Inhuman Network: Part 1


I evacuated my banking career of fourteen years, mainly because I was sick of people lying to me, and I didn’t much like all the money laundering that was going on under the watchful eye of the Central Bank of Cyprus, and my bosses, while I humbly awaited my annual pay rise of 2%.

During the months of bad luck finding a well paid job to help me prop-up my freelancing gigs, I realised that ANY job would have to do. When an offer of a short term contract at a sales office came up, I jumped to it.

The company was ‘CISCO’, one of the world’s premier computer technology companies. I was managing the local office administration, and finding out from ‘the horse's mouth’, that there is NO SUCH THING as a SECURE Internet banking transaction (this is why I don’t use the service). And that theoretically speaking (depending on whether there’s a client manager in the room) all our e-mail accounts can (and possibly are) being compromised, copied, altered, and then forwarded on without our knowledge or ability to trace back. Interesting stuff indeed. The reason for this I do not know.

CISCO has built a huge world-wide network of ‘connectivity’ where governments can move information around within seconds, and monitor every piece of ‘traffic’, not to mention ‘listening in’ on the neighbours. They call it ‘The Human Network’, but from my experience it is anything but human.

They plan to inter-connect everything in our daily lives which society uses to function, like the water supply, the electricity supply, our electronic communications, the money systems, all transportation… not just in America, but the entire world.

On the blueprint towards this aim, CISCO has also built several international R & D facilities, including a huge one in Israel, where teleconferencing has taken on a whole new meaning. Now they use live holograms. People can interact with each other anytime, anywhere, while still being thousands of miles apart, providing they have access to CISCO’s live hologram transmission technologies of course.

A couple of years ago they showcased ‘Telepresence’ at the Nicosia Hilton, during their annual I.T. industry event. I was blown away, like many people who watched this for the first time. Forget Apple and the iPad, or Virgin's space plane, this is sci-fi art becoming life, and it's coming our way very soon.

...to be continued

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Extraordinary Rendering – You are what we eat!


In August 2006 I was offered the role of PA to the CEO of one of the island’s oldest and most prestigious companies. As I was in desperate need of a full time job I accepted. Freelancing didn’t cover much, especially not the mortgage payments.

About a week before I was due to start, my new boss had a heart attack and promptly died right in the middle of his yachting holiday. I got the call asking me to start a little earlier than scheduled. This was due to the fact that I’d now be working for a new CEO, the boss’s daughter. She and the Co. Secretary (her brother) needed help desperately.

Friends told me not to go, that the death of the old CEO was a bad omen they said. Being a person who sometimes revels in tempting fate, I laughed out loud and said, “Bring it on!”

Background: The Company’s activities are primarily in the fields of energy supply, healthcare and environmental management. It owns and operates the country’s largest power plant, and has moved into oil and gas, as large deposits have been found off the coast, in waters shared with Israel and Egypt. It also operates the largest waste management treatment plant in the country, with a capacity of 60,000 tonnes pa. It supplies and maintains hospital equipment in 90% of the hospitals and clinics, as well as collecting the clinical waste generated by these establishments.

My office was located in the upper echelons of the five-storey building, along with the CEO, and her brother. I had to do the usual PA stuff, and at lunch-time I would frequent the staff kitchen/diner and learn about the day’s events ‘below stairs’.

I would learn how the company had only two service engineers for the entire country. When the capital city’s new General Hospital ventilator broke down, both men were 100 miles away, so the poor soul hooked up to the machine was left with little chance of survival – scandalous.

I was sceptical about the things I heard, but the following week a UN representative of some rank, kept calling me asking to speak to the CEO. He wanted to know why our company hadn’t kept to contract and picked up the waste on schedule.

Within a couple of days the soldier in full uniform, complete with blue beret, turned up in my office demanding to see the CEO. She was conveniently on her way out.

Words were crossed in the hallway. The Major, or whatever he was, announced that no more funds would be forthcoming from the UN and that the contract was cancelled.

The CEO replied that the UN had to pay, “Too bad - it’s required by the Government.” The Major, angered at the general lack of respect, turned around and left with an official, “You’ll be hearing from us.”

The following morning I entered the office to find a distressed engineer (about 60 years old) shouting with my boss that another pipe had burst at the rendering plant and water had short-circuited everything. More crossed words and then the Co. Chairman decided to take matters into his own hands, and drove down to the plant to see the mess for himself.

I was beginning to think there was definitely something in the stories I was hearing. This is when the old engineer sat down in my office to compose himself and began to reveal the truth about the forever problematic state-of-the-art waste rendering plant. (Rendering: reducing, melting, transforming, through heat)

Production had begun before the entire plant was completed; joints and piping were always needing to be reassessed. Sometimes the ‘separator’ malfunctioned. I asked the old engineer what that meant. He explained that sometimes the human clinical waste got mixed in with the animal waste or the non-organic waste.

I asked him outright, “You mean bits of humans get into the machine which renders the other stuff?” He nodded his head and gave a muffled laugh. I felt sick.

What does the company do with the waste? They produce and sell among other things, ‘Blood and Bone Meal’, that’s dried and powdered blood/fatty tissue/bones of animals, for fertilizer, animal feeds, and pet-food additives, to companies in the EU.

Luckily during my short stay with the company my duties didn’t extend to visiting the fiery pits of hell, sorry, the plant. It often had malfunctions, and because it consists of several specialized machines, you needed a specialist to fix it and that costs a lot of money.

We had such a specialist working for the plant but he refused to continue unless old unpaid invoices were settled for maintenance. On hearing this news, the CEO told me she would ‘deal with him once and for all’.

She got the specialist on the phone and a conversation ensued where my boss threatened him with deportation (he was a British national). His response was to hang-up. She proclaimed “I was only joking!” Everyone who knows her, and the power her company wields in government circles, knows that she was being deadly serious.

Things took a decidedly sinister turn when the following evening, I was sitting watching the evening news when an alarming thing happened. There was the specialist on the 8 o’clock news, standing outside of his house which had just been ‘fire bombed’ by persons unknown. Asked by the reporter if he knew who was responsible, the distraught specialist replied that he had ‘a feeling’ he knew who was behind the ‘terror-tactic’ but couldn’t name them. I had a feeling too.

A day or so passed, and two policemen arrived in my office for an apparent scheduled meeting with my boss and her brother. I didn’t schedule the meeting so I was guessing it was a personal visit. By now, I had decided that the money wasn’t worth it, and I was looking for a new job.

The old engineer who had previously been so loud in the CEO’s office turned up to advise me that there had been a power-cut at the rendering plant again. I felt like walking out while the police sat in the adjoining office.

My phone rang and Chrisy, one of the secretaries from Sales and Marketing, asked me if I was going to go down to the kitchen for lunch. “We’re all going to share Pizza, are you in?” My stomach turned. I declined and waited until the next day before I announced that I was leaving.

With a heavy sigh of relief I threw my few belongings into my bag and headed out the door. Nobody seemed very surprised to see me go.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Look Who's Talking


I’ve been reminiscing a lot these past few weeks, trying to put the vignettes of my life into some kind of chronological sequence, if only to remember the little details that have been squeezed under what they call ‘cold-hard-facts’. But the truth is in the details.

With the anniversary of my brother’s death, Sept. 9th, and thoughts about life and death swirling in my mind, trying to write about it is difficult. I still can’t bring myself to put it down on paper.

Instead and apart from, the slowly dissolving issues of guilt, fear, and loss, I’ve found myself trying to contemplate the question of why we are here, that ‘meaning of life’ conundrum. I’ve reached the conclusion that everything is ridiculous and meaningless, and all a complete illusion…I will probably revise this stance next week.

After lately being thrust into yet another new world-of-work, where the people all around me, the people I work with daily, have literal blood on their hands due to it being the medical profession, I am still finding it difficult to adjust from advertising via international (corrupt) banking through to paediatrics and (murder-on-demand) gynaecology.

The abortion clinic (and it is an abortion clinic because the ratio of terminations to births is approximately twenty to one), has made me lose faith (what little I had) in humanity’s future, and shaken me to my core.

A good friend tells me I shouldn’t judge, and to think that the poor baby may have had a terrible life. I know this, I don’t want to judge, but I simply can’t help it. As I see girls/women of all ages and races walking in and out the clinic on a daily basis, I know some of them have no choice, be it health reasons or otherwise.

I also see women who act as if they are having a hair-cut, other women returning on a regular basis and changing their ‘preference’ between staying pregnant or ‘dropping it this month’, as it is called often.

Another friend tells me I am naïve and know nothing of the world, and tells me not to be so shocked that so many women are having abortions weekly, and that it is the way of the world.

When I see a women selling her baby girl for Euros 3000 (in cash) and walking out with a smile on her face, or the old man that brings his 'maid’ to be ‘sorted out’ on the hush-hush, or the student that is selling her eggs, and doesn’t feel too good today… I am sickened to my stomach… I am angry… and I am judging.

I knew the huge salary I was getting from my old employers was ‘blood money’ and the ill-gotten-gains of the money-laundering and gun running rackets of the Middle East. It was money probably garnered because someone somewhere got shot in the head. I was disgusted with myself but I took the money anyway, and pretended that I was a bimbo and naïve and knew nothing about the world.

Nowadays, I eat birthday cake, while the ‘congratulations balloons’ hover above my office door, and a doctor hands me a piece of paper with a bloodstained edge.

Maybe it wasn’t pretence after all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SOLDIER OF FORTUITY

For LVB – The synchronicity is stifling as I look at the date on the document, it was Monday 12th August 2002 when I wrote the following...

...The heat is as intense as ever, taking a shower every few hours, but to no avail. Sweating buckets and donning frizzy beach-hair around the city cannot be avoided, as well as the irritation that comes with the soaring temperatures and constant need to drink water, followed by the urgency to find a toilet in the most inconvenient place.

Having just found out that the Bank was restructuring my whole department, and yet again the promised promotion would disappear into the dust for another year. The prospect of a stress-free weekend seemed low.

“How would you like to meet Yoshko?” my friend asked. “He’s a 30-year-old, six-foot-tall, blonde blue-eyed Ex-UN Special Forces Soldier from Slovenia!” I stopped to think for a minute, but it was about half a moment. “I think you know the answer to that question, don’t you?”

As we drove down to the coast I spent time in the car imagining my rendezvous with Yoshko. I knew nothing about Slovenia and its people, or the language, and even less about Special Forces soldiers. Did it matter? As it turned out he was a good English speaker.

Over dinner he showed me and my friend his tattoo of a crying eye, and the scars from knives and two gunshot wounds that he had received while serving in some war-torn area of the globe.

“They trained me to be a killing machine.” He said, “What am I supposed to do, that’s life.” He may have been trying to impress us, but his tone said otherwise.

He started to talk about Bosnia, and what the soldiers did there, and how many Americans got killed, and that the real horror was not Kosovo. A place I had some knowledge of through an old friend who was serving with the RAF, not pleasant things, things that changed the direction of people’s lives forever.

On one occasion he was tasked with checking out and ‘clearing’ houses in villages on the outskirts of Kosovo, searching for small arms weapons and insurgents. Yoshko and his small crew were almost out of ammunition and their radio had stopped working. They had no contact with their commander or base.

As they toured the area, going from empty house to empty house, they came across one that was still occupied. A Serbian man came out looking nervous and ‘twitchy’, talking loudly, but they didn’t understand him. Yoshko entered the house and went into the living room (lounge). Turning over the furniture, it was soon apparent why the Serb was anxious.

Hidden in a hole in the bottom of the sofa, and in the soft-chairs, were dozens of M48s and AK47 rifles and hand guns.

Time stood-still for a nanosecond. A Serb appeared from somewhere in the house with a rifle in hand.

“That’s when I knew, it was either him or me.” Yoshko explained, “It’s war, I’m a soldier, they pay me to kill so I kill. He pulled the trigger and missed, I shot him in the head. That’s life!”

I told him to stop; I didn’t want to know any more. I preferred to live in a world of horrors created by Hollywood, and stoned studio executives, not politics and the blood-thirsty war games that seem to be so easy by hiring young men in search of adventure, to go get themselves killed protecting my so-called freedom.

I felt guilty in a way, after listening to Yoshko’s stories. I had worried about my petty problems, not realising that there are people who sacrifice everyday to supposedly ‘keep the peace’, and stop the whole world falling apart. They allow me to live in relative safety. Never knowing about the dirty side of life, the things we are never told because they are too harsh for our sensibilities. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?

It was now time for a well-earned drink or two, some loud music, and dancing ‘till dawn amongst the debauched British tourists, and forgetting the troubles of the world. The best place to do this would be Ayia Napa, a favourite holiday resort for thousands of visitors looking for the best the island has to offer.

Yoshko had already arranged a spot, to meet up with a friend of his and, if brave enough, join in with the karaoke. I definitely needed something to drink, something to take my mind off the images of death that replaced the taste of my aperitif.

“We’re going to the Bedrock Inn.” Yoshko revealed. I knew the place as a Flintstones themed bar, quite a well-known hot-spot where the staff apparently dressed like characters from the popular cartoon.

I cringed at the thought, but sooner than I imagined I found myself dancing and singing to everything from ABBA to the Blues Brothers. Yoshko’s friend however was quite subdued. Had he graced him with stories of war? God knows they were enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.

The guy didn’t have the physique of a soldier but was blonde and tanned like Yoshko, clean-cut, and wore Bermuda shorts and shirt. He scarcely spoke two words all night. He smiled occasionally, but didn’t sing only happily danced along and drank his beer heartily. I attempted to speak to him, but he was quite oblivious to our requests to join in with the singing.

I guess I’ll ask Yoshko tomorrow, or should that be today? I had lost track of time, and a few of my senses, as my eyes wondered to different men in the vicinity. As the night/morning wore on we were all too exhausted to sleep and decided to go for a late breakfast. Yoshko’s silent friend disappeared with the dawn.

“Who was that guy anyway, he didn’t say much?” I pried. Yoshko was sober enough to reply, “Oh, that’s Prince Willem, we met yesterday, by accident on the beach. Great guy.”

“What?”
…………………………………………………………………………………………….
Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and probably his mother’s, Queen Beatrix, 60% share in Royal Dutch Shell.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Excerpt 6 - A Long Time Ago on a Lightship Far Far Away…

A love of science fiction and fantasy permeated my teenage years, just a kid when Close Encounters of the Third Kind hit the cinemas, couldn’t get in to see Star Wars, but eventually mature enough to enjoy the phenomenon that was ET!

As my interest in real flying saucers began to diminish, my interest in film increased. What better way to really get stuck into the genre than to join an amateur film club. A step up from the video rentals store, although we’d been avid members for a couple of years, and got to taste plenty of obscure movies that the cinema wouldn’t allow us to see. (I recall being turned away from ‘Blue Thunder’ as I was underage, which seems quite ridiculous to me now.)

After spying an ad in the ‘Bristol Evening Post’ for people to join in with amateur film-making, to talk about, watch, and ‘re-create your most famous sci-fi moments’. We couldn’t resist but to go along and sign up to the club called ‘Nemesis’.

At first, what we found appeared to disappoint. There assembled a bunch of people, young and old, that expressed an interest in sci-fi and making movies, but they seemed hell-bent on one aim. We sat to watch the premier of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and it wasn’t until the credits rolled that it dawned on us.

The name of the group should have alerted us sooner. Nemesis, as it turned out, was a Star Trek fan club, something not mentioned in the ad. Members of the public that had gone along to the meeting at the city center hotel, and to sign-up for membership, soon dwindled as the hour-long introductory talk went on.

In the end, all that was left was a ragtag bunch of college students, a family of four looking for a hobby they could all participate in, a post-graduate drama student looking for work, two biker dudes, and us.

We weren’t sure if it was a good idea, as given the choice, we preferred Star Wars to Star Trek, but what the heck, we were looking for a laugh, to socialize with other sci-fi fans, and basically see if we could get some amateur filming done and under our belts.

The Bristol docklands have a long and morbid history. Once, on a school history trip, we sailed along the canal that runs through the length of the city, along winding narrow waterways, under stone bridges, and scenic views of the parks that have now been converted to office blocks and an indoor tennis club, while the captain of our boat (barge) talked about the slave ships.

He recounted tales of how Bristol was the first port of call for unloading slaves from Africa back in 1730, and how the ones trying to escape were drowned in the river and hung up from chains under the bridges, to serve as a warning to others.

“See over there?” He pointed to the rusted chains pinned on the bricks of a short tunnel we traversed. “The river’s full of dead men’s bones!” I remembered his words as we walked along the cobbled streets of the docks, just a stone’s throw away from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre, in search of the Star Trek club house.

Eventually we saw it, an old lighthouse ship, permanently moored near a bridge, painted orange-red, with a small broken neon sign fixed above the starboard side of the deck reading ‘The Lightship’. It was now a pub and disco. Not a particularly classy joint, but the frequent of many young people in need of cheap entertainment and even cheaper beer. This is where our ‘film club’ met every weekend.

Over the months we participated in talks about movies, practiced our amateur dramatics – re-creating favourite scenes from various movies, not just the Star Trek franchise. We watched videos relentlessly, and even did readings of Andy McNab’s ‘Bravo Two Zero’. I stopped short of wearing the Deanna Troi outfit and attending the opening of a new local supermarket with Worf - Son of Mogh!

On Saturday nights these loveable Trekkers held ‘Queen’ appreciation discos, and we listened to nothing but ‘Queen’ songs… all night. It was very freaky but great fun. Yes, some members spoke fluent Klingon. Trekkers and Queen seem to have an affinity to one another it seemed.

I have great respect for the fan club, as this group of people were the most kind-hearted, passive, and well-meaning bunch of people I’d ever spent time with. The girls in the group used to carry mix-tapes around with them to listen to Patrick Stewart’s voice (Captain Jean-Luc Picard) whenever they wanted. He recited Hamlet to them weekly, along with the regular Star Trek diatribes. They were in awe of him.

I soon realised what it meant to be a real die-hard fan. I admit it did take a while to understand this strange fascination with the Star Trek Universe. The group eventually disbanded due to some internal misunderstanding between the ‘leader’ and his ‘followers’, after a spoilt evening of trying to organise a cinema trip to see ‘Star Trek: Generations’, and a further disagreement about the latest script written by a member of the club.

Our ragtag bunch got back together for a short while, joining us were a couple of members of the local Doctor Who Fan Club, under the moniker of ‘Penultimate Productions’. Soon work got underway to make a real movie, with real actors, a half-decent script, some great hand-made sets and costumes. An unfinished three minute clip was shown on the UKs Channel Four, Film Four Beginners special competition (1994). We were famous for … about three minutes!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Excerpt 5 - The Vanishing – Raising the Curtain on the Controllers

1993 was a pivotal year. Some might call it ‘the beginning of the end’. Among other things, it was the year my faith in the truth of the UFO phenomenon, was shaken. I had so fervently researched all the ufo subjects under the sun, and thought myself a bit of an expert in the ‘genre’.

I had read just about everything out there from Charles Berlitz ‘The Philadelphia Experiment’, to Whitley Strieber’s ‘Communion’…and consumed so many strange tales that doubt inevitably surfaced. Familiarity breeds contempt they say.

Perhaps I had matured, and my interests became more sophisticated? Still, I allowed some room for doubt, the margin of error, or .0001 of a chance that I was wrong. I needed convincing, pretty quickly, that the constant repeating of the folklore, the strange tales from that nice fellow Timothy Good, the contactees, the abductees, they were telling the truth, and yes there are ‘Aliens Among Us’.

One way to access the truth would be to locate the source; find people who had experienced the weird things first hand. Joining a local group of ‘enthusiasts’ would be the next step on the route to the ultimate reveal.

TV being the intrusive brain-washing medium that it is, no one could escape the announcement that finally the UK would be catching up with the US. Our newspapers had snippets of the storyline and premise. There were adverts everywhere, a major event was coming, to queue the public about this ‘breakthrough program’. Everyone was dying to see… The X-Files!

After the Bristol and Sheffield conferences, we were eager to hunt down a local group and maybe experience the weird stuff for ourselves. ‘Is there anyone out there?’ To the north of Bristol is the suburb of Southmead, and the location of a ‘Ufo Spotters’ group. Right up our alley!

I hate to say it but all the stereo-types you’d expect frequented this group. There was a geeky–balding middle-aged guy in a brown suit and steel-rim glasses, there were a bunch of students who always wore black jeans and Motorhead T-shirts, a flowery-dressed housewife, a bearded old man that didn’t speak, and me, my brother, and his friend Jason. The leader of the group was a guy called Martin or Matthew (it was confusing because people called him both names, which seemed weird to us)!

We met weekly at Martin/Matthew’s house on the Southmead Road. It wasn’t the best venue, but it was free. The place was filthy, and very sparse. The only room that seemed lived in was the lounge. There were torn white lacy curtains that had seen better days, a TV, and a sofa which smelled of cigarettes. The toilet had no lights, and the kitchen was damp, mould had taken over the walls. The window on the back door was blacked out with paint. It seemed to us that the house wasn’t really being used very often.

The alarm-bells should have been ringing when I asked Martin/Matthew why he hadn’t emptied the sink for two weeks. He replied that he’s just divorced his wife and couldn’t face clearing up.

The truth was, with all the damp and dirt, with all the appearance of a recent fire brigade visit, the state of the house was nothing compared to our anticipation of watching the premier of The X-files, and of Martin/Matthew telling us about his 'amazing' personal ufo encounter!

Early on, the group had decided to borrow a mini-van belonging to the father of one of the students. We were going to drive to Avebury, and camp-out in a field, and watch a crop-circle being formed. Personally I had my doubts that Aliens had anything to do with them, but I was definitely up for adventure if we could organise it.

Before this, I wanted to hear Martin/Matthew’s story. We all settled down in the lounge eagerly awaiting his talk. He recounted how one morning he’d woken up early and gone to make a coffee, he’d pulled the curtains open, and peered out of the kitchen window. He noticed that, instead of the sun rising, darkness was overtaking the house. He continued to explain that he'd rushed out, into the garden, and looked up to see a huge black triangular shaped ufo passing silently over his house and the neighbourhood.

We listened intently but thought it was basically a load of rubbish. I could have easily made this story up, and what proof would I have. What proof did Martin/Matthew have? His reply to our disbelief was to tell us that he knew what he was seeing was a ufo because he actually worked at Filton (British Aerospace) and was told by a colleague that they had one, which was sent over by the Americans for research in the British lab!

Okay, we thought. Why didn’t you mention this to us before? You work in a secret British Military establishment, with military equipment? On seeing the plane, you immediately believe that it is a Ufo and not secret military aircraft? Did no one see the irony of this? Martin/Matthew seemed to get annoyed at our questioning of him.

My brother being the smart one said, ‘This is bullshit, don’t ever bring me to one of these meetings again!’ and insisted on leaving. Jason and I were still on the fence, or rather on the edge of the sticky sofa, wandering how to get out of going to Avebury to look for crop-circle making aliens!

We’d decided the following week would be our last. Someone should speak to Martin/Matthew and the others; tell them that we wanted out of the group. The filton connection was fishy. Apart from this, I remembered seeing the geeky–balding middle-aged guy in a brown suit and steel-rim glasses somewhere before. Was he at the Sheffield Conference?

Jason and I arrived outside Martin/Mathew’s house. Ringing the doorbell we immediately noticed no lights in the lounge. Was there another episode of The X-Files and we were missing it? Banging on the front door a couple more times, it became obvious that no one was in. Bit strange we thought. Nobody called us to say the meeting had been cancelled.

Walking around to the back of the house, near the side entrance and path to the garden, Jason pulled himself up onto the ledge of an open window. He peered through the curtains, into the hallway. It was dark, but he could see into the lounge… it was empty, no sofa.

We decided to enter the back garden, and peer in through the kitchen window. We looked closely and could just make out that the kitchen was empty too, no table or chairs. ‘He’s gone!’ Jason proclaimed. ‘What do you mean gone?’ I asked in disbelief. ‘He’s scarpered!’

The following morning I called the number I had for Martin/Matthew… it was disconnected. I called the number for the flowery-dressed housewife, the number didn’t exist. I failed to obtain contact details of the geeky–balding middle-aged guy in a brown suit and steel-rim glasses, or the silent bearded man. The students didn’t have a number. So the entire group just vanished into thin air… thin, murky, damp smelling air!

...to be continued

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Excerpt 3 - Fire in the Sky – Hollywood and the Highly Suggestible

In the early 90s, there was a spate of crop-circle formations in the west-country. Prompted to subscribe to ‘The Cereologist’ magazine, I was left unconvinced of duo ‘Doug and Dave’s revelations that they were behind the entire phenomenon, with a piece of rope and a stick.

Crop circles had been recorded in the area for over a hundred years, and continued unabated, like clock-work, every May to September. I knew there had to be more to it. I had seen one in a field along the highway from Reading driving into London, and I knew that a design like the one I’d seen (key shaped) needed at least seven or eight people with ropes and sticks!

Big news hit in 1993, as strange lights in the sky over Bristol caused people to come out into the streets with camcorders and binoculars for a peek at the fantastic. Some even running up and down the hills on the outskirts of the city, to look at a crop circle that had appeared in the most unusual place.

This particular year was memorable in the history of Ufology. I won’t delve into it all here; you can easily read about it online. It was a turning point year in engineering public opinion to believe the possibility of extraterrestrial visitation, as well as other strange phenomena. One of the most successful tools was the television programme, ‘The X-Files’ which aired in this year.

To aid the public, and anyone curious and bored enough to spend a week-end finding out about the weird paranormal things that take place all around us, conferences are always the best place to start. Bristol held such an event in 1993 and boasted illustrious guests flown in especially for the occasion, some with Hollywood connections.

Prior to the release of the movie ‘Fire in the Sky’, starring D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Peter Berg, and making his big screen come-back, James Garner, the screenwriter (Tracy Torme) and Ufo researchers from the USA, turned up at the obscure Bristol conference to talk about the real story behind the film. Quite a coup for the supposed low-key west-country event.

This conference was special for showing the very first clips of the film, a recorded interview with the real-life protagonist Travis Walton, and helping guest speakers link up with Bristol residents and talk about their ‘mutual experiences’. Naturally we had to be there to witness it all.

As it was our first conference, we were astonished at the quite weird combination forming before our eyes, realising just how ‘fashionable’ the paranormal was. Outside of the lecture hall were book-stands to buy the latest publications, and representatives of clubs and associations that anyone could join. There was also a lot of interesting conversation taking place in the foyer.

As my friends and I sat to drink coca-cola and survey our surroundings, we accidently on-purpose overhear the talk amongst guests and attendees. One woman is explaining to a prominent researcher how a ufo hovered at her bedroom window and she found herself floating out into the night sky to be taken aboard a ship. A man spoke of prophetic dreams and encounters with ‘visitors’.

We returned to the lecture to hear of locals that saw UFOs over the city that appeared to ‘lose time’ and perhaps were abducted by aliens. We watched clips of a Belgian black-triangle shaped Ufo on a shaky projector screen, and were in awe at photographs from Pensacola, Florida, of UFOs hovering over the sea!

Thinking back, it was pure brainwashing, as very little sceptical resistance was demonstrated by anyone. Questions to the speakers were all designed to reinforce the images we were exposed to. ‘What should we do next, after this conference?’ we mused. ‘I know, why don’t we join a local club?’

We ventured out of the lecture hall, towards the club stands, determined to get involved with one of these paranormal groups, to see for ourselves the truth of the phenomena. Not sure at this point whether a humble piece of rope and a stick would be levy enough to get us into the inner circle, we joined them none-the-less.
…to be continued

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Excerpt 2 - The Aurora Project and British Telecom

I always liked sitting at that small, round, corner table in the restaurant, with greasy salt and vinegar pots, sugar bowl, white serviettes, and a small blue glass ashtray.

The transistor radio buzzed away quietly on a shelf fixed next to an old barber shop mirror, left untouched since the early days, now a permanent fixture on the fish and chip shop wall.

Still it was a cosy nook, and gave the impression of there being a secret door just around the corner. In fact there was a narrow mahogany-finished door, but it led to the very unimpressive toilet!

In the late 80s, I remember sitting at that table, attempting to sketch something, while listening to the Top 20 music charts, and suddenly having a ‘eureka’ moment. I decided to go to the library to research UFOs. Can’t really explain why… back-masking, subliminal messaging, who knows!

When I was younger, I use to read the girls comic ‘Misty’, which sometimes came with a free gift. The female equivalent of Marvel’s ‘Silver Surfer’, except it was all about the occult, primarily witches. Kind of odd marketing to 9-year-olds don’t you think?

Anyway, now in my teens and seeking more sophisticated entertainment, off I went to the library to discover the anomalous phenomena that seemed very exciting to me at that age. Music and movies was just not enough.

Before the explosion of the Internet, when people use to write letters to each other, and sometimes use a Wang Word-Perfect-Processor machine at college, because it was hi-tech, there were books in libraries! My local had a small section right at the back, at the bottom shelves, below the obsolete geography texts.

I loved discovering all the strange, and down-right freaky stories, of aliens among us, cigar-shaped ufos, men in black, angel-hair, abductions, and hybrid-babies. As well as premonitions, poltergeists, near-death-experiences, lay-lines, ball-lightening, cryptozoology, cattle mutilations, visions of the Virgin Mary, time-travellers, the hollow-earth, the Bermuda Triangle, and Atlantis!

The library books were my first-class ticket to a world of the fantastic. Trusty comic ‘Misty’ was nothing compared to the writings of Erich von Daniken and Billy Meier! I bought cheap, old, and obscure books, and later I would consume the words of Timothy Good, Jacques Vallee, and Stanton Friedman.

While my friends watched Madonna videos, I couldn’t wait to see ‘Aliens’ and ‘Predator’. Buying a monthly magazine at times, which helped locate clubs and associations, and how to subscribe to fringe publications, or attend wacky conferences, I had more extreme culture at my finger tips.

One fringe publication was a small booklet, sometimes handwritten, from a Warrington and Fleetwood ufo researcher named Jenny Randles, a member of ‘BUFORA’ (British UFO Research Association). It would document sightings and report on research and news. I was a fan because I couldn’t afford magazines of the likes of ‘Flying Saucer Review’.

One Friday morning our local newspaper, ‘The Mercury’, ran a tiny article on a ufo sighting. This was a rare occasion when something strange made the news in our area. Remember, we lived over half an hour away from the regional capital Bristol, and Filton, the home of ‘British Aerospace Systems’, and now ‘Advanced Technology Centre’.

The newspaper reported that a flying-triangle was seen over the area, and most probably was the (still secret) Aurora Hypersonic Spy-plane. Jenny Randles encouraged people to write to her publication about stories, so I did just that. I cut out the piece and sent it to her. She acknowledged me in the next issue, much to my delight!

Then a strange thing happened. Precisely a month after I mailed the clipping the phone began to ring. Each time someone in the house would answer the phone, all they would hear from the other end was a couple of clicks, then silence. After about a month of weekly hang-ups, my mother, not a person to be messed with, decided to find out what was going on.

She waited for the call, it came. As soon as the line went dead she called the BT (British Telecom) operator. A young man answered and she asked about the call she’d just received. ‘Could you please check what happened?’ she asked the young man. ‘I think they could be in trouble, they’ve been trying to call me today, and just now the line went dead!’

So the operator asked her to hold while he checked the line, something that they don’t do anymore. After about thirty seconds he came back to her. ‘I’m not supposed to tell you this, but you should know, I’ve checked the number.’ ‘Who was it?’ asked my mother. The young man replied quickly, ‘It’s an M.O.D. number, that’s all I can tell you.’ and he promptly hung up.

Our phone continued to ring, and the ‘Ministry of Defence’ continued to hang up. My mother didn’t understand why they would be calling our fish and chip shop, soon to be a café-restaurant, and not speak, just make clicking sounds.

I never mentioned my letter to Jenny Randles and the Aurora Project, but I had a sneaky suspicion that my enthusiasm for Ufology had put our family on a black-list somewhere. Could we buy our way out with a free hair-cut, some fish and chips, and a cup of Earl Grey tea?

to be continued…

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Excerpt 1 - Aleister Crowley Was Here... And So Was Darth Vader!

In the late 50s, my father, a very fashionable ‘teddy boy’, sporting winkle picker boots and quiff, use to frequent Soho hot-spots, such as ‘The Heaven and Hell club’ with Tommy Steele. Every morning you would find them in the local greasy-spoon cafe, where a Kray twin would often pop in to ask if anyone had seen his brother. Renting a noisy flat, where Barbara Windsor lived upstairs, my father soon decided that it was time to settle down.

The swinging 60s were kicking in, and after a fateful day of a missed dental appointment, the wrong double-decker bus, and an electrical failure on the London Underground, boy eventually met girl!

My mother, fresh off the ship from the island, a good-wholesome factory girl, was all too happy to oblige. And so they wed in Camden Town, London, and settled in the west country, in a nice seaside town in Somerset. It was near his family, far away from the London scene, perfect to start a new life and a family of their own.

A lot of people will admit that living with your in-laws can be difficult at times; brothers and sisters can cause a lot of agro for a newlywed couple. Luckily, in this old holiday resort, once the favourite destination of King George III, with its promenades and late Victorian terrace houses, many empty properties were just waiting to be filled.

(As Nia Vardalos, of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ fame demonstrated; getting away from the family can be near on impossible.)

The house next door had been renovated. As had the entire row of two hundred year old terraces. They were now coffee shops, cafes, restaurants and a club; with a special room at the back converted into an illegal gambling joint, where a select few got to blow their income every night on bad poker-face bluffs.

My parents bought the house next to my aunt and uncle, and turned it into a barber shop, so my father could ply his trade, while my mother took care of the children. The rooms upstairs were small, with stone fireplaces that had been boarded-up decades before and their history forgotten.

A few years passed, and enough money was collected to buy a proper home in the suburbs, leaving the barber shop’s upstairs rooms empty once more. This wasn’t to last as the family fell on hard times, thanks to the poker joint’s persistence to wreak havoc on the bank accounts of the neighbourhood.

Us kids, now a little older, were not happy as we moved back to the upstairs rooms of the shop. We hated the idea as we’d gotten use to wide-open spaces of the Somerset countryside. Now stuck in the town, bustling with tourists, made us depressed, but it wasn’t until later that we would see the advantages it bestowed.

The old Italian lady that lived across the street, Mrs. Rose, helped us unpack. I looked out of the ancient sash-window, my angst was obvious. She whispered to me, ‘A Witch use to live here’. A little stunned I gave her my attention, wanting to hear more of the Witch.

Perhaps this was the excuse we needed, to persuade our parents not to make us stay in the old house again. She continued, ‘A very famous Witch stayed here – I don’t know what happened to her but everyone knew she was a Witch!’ I thought Mrs Rose had finally lost it and dismissed her comments. Perhaps she could see we were depressed about moving back and made up the story to excite us.

Time passed, the barber shop was not profitable anymore, and had been renovated again, now it was to be a fish and chip shop. The poker joint had been closed by the police, and a Ladbrokes (bookmakers) replaced it, along with a disco, and sweet shop.

The bustling seaside town had new attractions. Plenty of famous faces would frequently visit; there was a ‘Play House’ theatre where the Beatles had once performed while still unknown. It now housed celebrity acts from the TV, famous comedians, and actors. We got to see VIPs all the time.

One particular evening was memorable, when I popped into the chip shop and my father started signalling me with his eyebrows to look over at a customer sitting in the corner.

‘Why are you making that weird face?’ I asked. He replied in a hushed tone, ‘Do you see that man over there, do you know who he is?’ I looked but noticed nothing unusual except that he appeared to be a tall guy. He was sitting at the very tiny round table we used to have for customers who wanted to eat their fish and chips with a cup of tea in a quiet corner. He also looked kind of angry.

My father egged me on, ‘That’s Darth Vader! Go over and ask him for his autograph, go on!’
‘That’s not Darth Vader!’ I replied brashly. ‘Oh yes it is, I’ve just been talking to him, maybe you shouldn’t go and ask for an autograph actually, he said he hates kids, had enough of them after doing the Green Cross Code, they won’t leave him alone, poor man.’

In the corner of the fish and chip shop sat David Prowse MBE, the West-country born actor that played the body of ‘Darth Vader’ in the Star Wars movies (not the voice, James Earl Jones). David was quite famous in the U.K. for doing a children’s government sponsored commercial on how to cross the road safely, and was thus known as ‘The Green Cross Code Man’.

Darth Vader noticed that we were discussing him and quickly finished his tea. He left with a wave and a nod of appreciation to my father. I had no time to ask for anything, and I was quite afraid. It turned out to be HIM; the Supreme Commander of the Galactic Empire!

The town continues to welcome famous guests, the Queen and Princess Diana visited a couple of times. Its history is long and varied. The area played a big part in a secret war time operation to prepare the D-Day landings. There is quite a lot of secret history as it turns out.

The first transatlantic telegraph cable, (the Internet of its time) linking the Americas to Europe was brought to shore from Nova Scotia, via Ireland (1884), to a connector around the corner from the fish and chip shop. There still stands a metal box, which has the remnants of the old telecommunication system, on the sea front, next to the ice cream shop, but its closed to the public.

I love history and mystery too. After moving out, spending the summer in a trailer-park, and then into the old house once more, (gambling - an incurable disease), I remembered the old Italian lady’s whisper of, ‘A Witch use to live here’.

Now older, I decided to put an end to the scary thoughts that plagued me. Doing a little research to see what famous witches had once lived in the town, in the houses on my street. What I discovered amazed me, but didn’t ease my fears much.

There were a few spiritualists with links to the town, but only one ‘famous witch’ that was known to have stayed in the area prior to the 60s, to have lived there for a while, much earlier, around the 30s. Her name was ‘Violet Mary Firth’. She was most commonly known in British occult circles as ‘Dion Fortune’.

This famous witch spent some of 1937/1938 in the town writing her Wicca book ‘The Sea Priestess’, she was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founder of the Fraternity of the Inner Light, and close friend and (some say) lover of one Aleister Crowley. He visited her often, and probably the Golden Dawn's 'Isis Temple', which was established in the town, before it was disbanded.

There may be proof of this lying in a safety-deposit box in Barclays Bank. My mother had recently walked over there, together with a kitchen assistant from the fish and chip shop, which has now been renovated to a café and restaurant, carrying the five or so box-files of paperwork dating back nearly two hundred years.

There are literally thousands of documents. They were required by the family solicitor; deeds, maps, contracts, and letters of sale, for the old house bought in the 60s. So much paperwork, some of it torn and unreadable, documenting the history of the property, stored away like the secrets of the town, the solicitor none-the-wiser.

I cannot prove unequivocally that Crowley stayed in my childhood home, without going through the entire safety deposit box, a daunting task that requires authority and a key to gain access, and probably some blood. I can only speculate, knowing that a ‘famous Witch use to live here’, and it may have been Dion Fortune.

There are times when I contemplate scribbling on the wall, ‘Aleister Crowley Was Here, And So Was Darth Vader!’ Perhaps it would act as a warning of sorts, for those who would witness events just a few years later.

to be continued…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Prologue - Hi - Strangeness!

Today my car was stopped by a motorcycle cop, as I crossed paths with the Pope.

I was in my Honda, the Pope in the backseat of a police-flanked black Mercedes, Vatican flag flying on the bonnet. While they escorted him to the Presidential Palace, I attempted to dodge traffic on my way to work, late for my new job at the abortion clinic. Irony has always played a big part in my life. I reflected on the bizarreness of the moment.

The bizarre and unusual dominates my life these days. But thinking about it, I realise that this is no new phenomenon, I’ve encountered the weird and fantastic throughout my life, and seeing the Pope at the traffic lights was nothing compared to recollections of my past, my brushes with the rich, famous, and infamous, and the incredible way life pulls me in unexpected directions.

It’s difficult to know where to begin. Contemplating the task of randomly documenting some of these strange events is not easy. To relieve the pressure I’ve started to write a list of some of the topics I may cover.

This is autobiographical, a memoir if you like. It’s the truth of how I remember things, looking back at those interesting times of ‘high-strangeness’.

I could suggest that you use my stories as light relief, perhaps as an antidote to the shocking revelations you encounter as you delve into the mindboggling world of synchronicity and synchromysticism.


N.B. People who don’t know me think that I make this stuff up… my friends know me well, and so they know it’s the strange undeniable truth!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A is for ALPHA


A is the first letter of the Greek alphabet…the first letter in the NATO phonetic alphabet and Service A is one of the uniforms of the United States Marine Corps…there are also 10 cities in the United States called Alpha!

With my eagerness to wade into the world of strangeness, just as I had stumbled into the illuminati conspiracy… for want of a better phrase… I have suddenly been met by the proverbial brick wall.

It’s not the first time I’ve turned a corner and met a dead end. As a student many moons ago, I had an avid fascination with occult subjects and anomalous phenomena (being a bit of a sci-fi geek – the X-files had just come out and I admit it – I was brainwashed!) A library full of strange tales, and first-person accounts told to me about night-time illuminations of a different kind, and seemed to fill the boredom void.

As the years passed and I saw the ‘Ufology’ movement evolve I concluded that the library of knowledge I built up was merely ‘entertainment’ … (childhood illusions shattered)... as 1999 came and went and I saw no evidence of WW111, impending doom, alien invasion, never mind disclosure.. at the end of the alley it finally dawned on me…just a wall with graffiti, but I digress…

I trolled the sites today and finally came across an interesting news article from earlier in the month…where A is prominent…see below…

Meantime, I was also doing some research and headed over to a great site, full of intriguing article links (http://www.boingboing.net/) where the strangeness factor is high…a non-conspiracy site actually covering the Hello Kitty Pancake shop and Pole dancing kiddies’ lingerie stories, all on the same page!

As a coincidence there are also some funny videos featuring bunnies, which reminded me of something I’d seen at Pseudo Occult Media, or was that MK Culture or Vigilant Citizen, or even over at Celtic Rebel. Naturally as I searched to answer this same question I found endless tentative connections.

By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer – Mon Feb 1, 5:53 pm ET
DENVER –
The Air Force Academy has set aside an outdoor worship area for Pagans, Wiccans, Druids and other Earth-centered believers, school officials said Monday.
A double circle of stones atop a hill on the campus near Colorado Springs has been designated for the group, which previously met indoors.

"Being with nature and connecting with it is kind of the whole point," said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who sponsors the group and describes himself as a Pagan. "It will dramatically improve that atmosphere, the mindset and the actual connection."

The stones were moved to the hilltop last year because erosion threatened to make them unstable in their previous location near the visitors center. Crews arranged them in two concentric circles because they thought it would be a pleasant place for cadets to relax, Longcrier said.

When Longcrier and academy chaplains were looking for an outdoor worship space, they discovered one already existed in the form of the circles.
Lt. Col. William Ziegler, one of the academy's chaplains, said designating the space is part of the school's effort to foster religious tolerance and to defend the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

"It's about our commitment as airmen to protect freedom and defend freedom. To me this is a freedom thing," he said.

The school also has worship facilities for Protestant and Catholic Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists.

The academy superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, has made religious tolerance a priority. It became a concern in 2004 when a survey found many cadets had heard slurs or jokes about other religions and that some felt ostracized because they weren't religious.

Longcrier and Ziegler said they've heard no criticism of the new worship space but both noted its presence was just made public.
"Not to say that it's not coming, but so far we haven't had any real issues," Longcrier said.

He said 15 to 20 cadets have shown an interest in Earth-centered beliefs, and eight to 10 regularly attend Monday night meetings. Of those, six or seven are devout believers and the others are "searchers," Longcrier said.

The academy has about 4,000 cadets. The school is one of five U.S. service academies, including West Point and Annapolis. Cadets graduate as second lieutenants.
"Earth-centered" spirituality encompasses many beliefs, Longcrier said, many that recognize multiple gods and goddesses and observe holidays tied to the seasons.

Longcrier said he personally doesn't consider gods and goddesses to be actual beings but personifications of natural events that human ancestors wanted to put a face on.
"The goddess is symbolic of the Earth," Longcrier said. "Do I believe I'm worshipping this female entity living in the Earth or up in space somewhere? No. The symbolism is very important."

The group's meetings are usually devoted to mediation, lessons or ceremonies, he said.

Longcrier, who oversees laboratories in the academy's astronautics labs, said he has military designation as a "distinct faith group leader."

Anyone is welcome to visit the new worship site but it should be treated as a religious structure, he said. A formal dedication is planned in March.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In the beginning there was R






R 2
the length of a line segment between the center and circumference of a circle or sphere.

R 3
the 18th letter of the Roman alphabet

R 5
a unit of radiation exposure

The R Language

In every computer language variables provide a means of accessing the data stored in memory. R does not provide direct access to the computer's memory but rather provides a number of specialized data structures (objects). These objects are referred to through symbols or variables.

In R, however, the symbols are themselves objects and can be manipulated in the same way as any other object. This is different from many other languages and has wide ranging effects.

R

...the symbol for resistance
....the symbol for royalty
.....the Rook in Chess
......a Censorship rating
.......the abbreviation for Radius
........in Quantum General Relativity